Wednesday, June 30, 2010

In Colorado, drills can lead to spills--The Denver Post

"Companies have reported nearly 1,000 incidents in the state"

By Burt Hubbard
The Denver Post

Oil and gas companies have reported almost 1,000 spills to Colorado regulators over the past two and half years totaling 5.2 million gallons of drilling liquids and oil.

They ranged from small oil leaks from half-closed valves to thousands of barrels of tainted water that escaped from pits.

It's far from the volume of oil now shooting into the Gulf of Mexico, but a Denver Post analysis of state spill reports shows that even far from offshore, drilling for oil can regularly create unintended messes....continued....

Pennsylvania natural gas drilling uses chemicals linked to illness

Monday, Jun. 28, 2010

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Compounds associated with neurological problems, cancer and other serious health effects are among the chemicals being used to drill natural gas wells in Pennsylvania, although state and industry officials said Monday the practice is not polluting drinking water.

The Associated Press obtained the list from the state Department of Environmental Protection, which assembled what is believed to be the first complete catalog of gas drilling chemicals being used in Pennsylvania. The agency hopes to post it online soon.

The department counts more than 80 chemicals being used by the rapidly growing drilling industry in hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," as it pursues the rich Marcellus Shale reserve. Many of the compounds are also present in consumer products, such as salt, cosmetics, gasoline, pesticides, solvents, glues, paints and tobacco smoke.

Environmental advocates worry that the chemicals are poisoning underground drinking water sources. However, environmental officials say they know of no examples in Pennsylvania or elsewhere......continued......

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Nestle to begin draining millions of gallons of Arkansas River water--The Colorado Independent

By Scot Kersgaard 6/16/10 8:54 AM

If things go according to plan, in about a month someone at Nestle Waters North America will turn a valve and water will begin running out of a pipeline near Buena Vista and will splash into an empty 8,000-gallon tanker truck. It will take roughly an hour for the truck to fill, and then another truck will take its place. The water will run 24 hours a day, filling approximately 25 trucks each day, every day.

The trucks will drive 120 miles to a Nestle bottling plant in Denver where the water will be used to fill hundreds and thousands and millions of little plastic Arrowhead Springs water bottles, which will then be trucked to convenience markets, grocery stores, movie theaters, and sports palaces around the West. Each month, Nestle will fill roughly 40.4 million 16.9 ounce bottles with the water from the area’s Nathrop spring. By the end of a year, 65 million gallons of Arkansas Valley water will have been driven to Denver, bottled, driven somewhere else, and sold.

Not everyone is happy about this. Buena Vista and Salida have birthed a protest movement that has been more noisy than effective. By some estimates, 80 percent of the roughly 17,000 people in Chaffee County are opposed to this diversion of water. Still, when it came time to issue permits, the three-member Board of County Commissioners was unanimous in approving Nestle’s plans.

In the end, it was probably a combination of fear and Old-West style property rights values that carried the day for Nestle......continued.......

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sandra Steingraber’s Speech in Ithaca, June 12, 2010

My interest in this topic began in a hospital bed in 1979 when heard a doctor tell me that I had bladder cancer. I had just turned 20.

Back at the university library, I found out that bladder cancer is almost always caused by chemicals in the environment. Especially chemical contaminants in air and water.

Like solvents.
Like benzene.
Like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, otherwise known as soot.

Years later, I came back to my Illinois hometown as a Ph.D. biologist. I found out that I was just one data point in a cluster of cancers there. I found chemicals linked to bladder cancer in my hometown drinking water wells and in the landfills. So I wrote about all that in my book Living Downstream.

Living Downstream came out as a movie recently. It was shown here in Cinemapolis, and it was shown at a Washington DC film festival together with—guess which other film? Gasland. So I got to see Josh Fox’s amazing documentary way before the rest of you, and it blew me away. Gasland inspired me to start researching the carcinogens used in the gas drilling of shale by hydrofracking.

Ithaca, nothing I’ve learned in the last 30 years of researching carcinogens scares me more than fracking.
So when I was asked last month to participate in Congressional briefing about the environmental contributions to cancer, I spoke about fracking. I spoke about it again at a meeting with White House staff.

We all need now to be speaking about fracking. Here’s why.

The bedrock under our feet is made of shale. Geologists call it the ancient basement of New York. It’s an old sea floor. It’s like a big chalkboard under the ground and trapped inside this layer are tiny bubbles of methane—natural gas. Those bubbles represent the bodies of ancient sea creatures.

To get these gas bubbles out of the bedrock, you have to shatter it with explosives. You have to pump it full of chemical-laced water under high pressure. You need compressors running 24/7. You need to fill the rural roads of upstate New York with diesel trucks.

Carcinogens are involved at every single stage of hydrofracking........continued......

Gulf oil spill worsens -- but what about the safety of gas fracking?--LA Times

June 18, 2010 | 2:13am
Imagine a siege of hydrocarbons spewing from deep below ground, polluting water and air, sickening animals and threatening the health of unsuspecting Americans. And no one knows how long it will last.

No, we’re not talking about BP’s gulf oil spill. We’re talking about hydraulic fracturing of natural gas deposits. And if that phrase makes your eyes glaze over, start blinking them open. Fracking, as the practice is also known, may be coming to a drinking well or a water system near you. It involves blasting water, sand and chemicals, many of them toxic, into underground rock to extract oil or gas.

"Gasland," a compelling documentary on HBO airing Monday, June 21 (9 p.m. ET/PT), traces hydraulic fracturing across 34 states from California to Louisiana to Pennsylvania. The exposé by filmmaker Josh Fox, alternately chilling and darkly humorous, won the 2010 Sundance Film Festival’s special jury prize for documentary.

It details how former Vice President Dick Cheney, in partnership with the energy industry and drilling companies such as his former employer, Halliburton Corp., successfully pressured Congress in 2005 to exempt fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act and other environmental laws.....continued.......

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"Gasbuggy" Natural Gas Stimulation/Nuclear Explosion

The Gasbuggy Nuclear Test Site is the location of a 1967 underground nuclear explosion, conducted to test the viability of using a nuclear device to aid in natural gas extraction. It was part of the Plowshare Program, the program to develop peaceful uses of nuclear weapons, and was the first use of a nuclear explosion for industrial purposes. The test was overseen by the San Francisco Operations Office of the Atomic Energy Commission, and was conducted by the Lawrence Radiation Lab (later to become the Lawrence Livermore National Lab) in conjunction with the El Paso Natural Gas Company. Called "gas stimulation," the technique has been used employing conventional explosives, and it was hoped that a larger nuclear explosion would be capable of opening up gas deposits which are not otherwise economically viable. The test called for a 29-kiloton nuclear device to be placed at the bottom of a 4,240-foot deep shaft drilled in a "tight" shale formation known to contain natural gas. To a large degree the experiment went as planned: the underground cavity produced by the explosion, 80 feet wide and 335 feet high, filled with natural gas from the fractured surrounding rock. However the gas was too radioactive to be commercially distributed by public utilities.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

“Political Earthquake” Shakes Mora County

"Mora County had the equivalent of a political earthquake" says David Gulliani, Las Vegas Optic June 7th 2010.
by Kathleen Dudley, Drilling Mora County

Two Mora County Commission seats were taken by Democrats John Olivas and Paula Garcia during the primary election June 8th 2010. Uncontested for the November ballot and new to political life, Olivas begins his four year term as the District 2 Commissioner this coming January 2011, while Garcia will run against Republican opponent, Antonio Pino, in District 1. But with 61% of the primary vote, her win in November should be for certain.

Garica heads the New Mexico Acequia Association and is well known and revered in Mora County for her protection of the local culture which is synonymous to agua in the most traditional sense—the lifeblood of Mora County. And as president of the Mora Land Grant, her ties to the land and water represent the gente de Mora.

Olivas “lives off the resources of the land” he says, which puts him squarely dependent upon an unspoiled Mora County. His participation in the grassroots citizen efforts over the past two years to protect Mora County from oil and gas development goes deeply to the roots of his family and his determination to keep Mora County agricultural and free of dirty industrial development.

Both Olivas and Garcia have spoken out against oil and gas development since the first public oil and gas commission meeting was held May 7th, 2008 in Mora. During the primaries, Olivas ran a strong campaign opposing industry's development in the County, while Garcia took a softer, more political position yet still obviously opposed to any industrial development that would damage water quality or the culture of her county.

Two of the three current commissioners will exit their positions in January 2011, while Commissioner Laudente Quintana will remain an additional two years. Once the Mayor of Wagon Mound, he fought along side the citizens of the Village of Wagon Mound, the only incorporated village in Mora County, to protect their water source from a local rancher’s threat. They won.

It appears both Olivas and Garcia will have an opportunity come 2011 to work along side Quintana as they work to guide Mora County strongly in concert with goals and visions of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP)—originally adopted in 1995, and modified January 2010. While the heart of the revised CLUP remains intact, there are clearly changes that will make the new commissioners’ jobs more complicated than past commissions.

For one, there is a palpable threat from big money-- the largest corporation in the world, Royal Dutch Shell, ranking number one in money and power. Along with Shell, CEJA out of Oklahoma and possibly ConocoPhillips, their signed mineral leases in the Las Vegas Basin are being logged at the county clerk’s office.

Come January, there will be an entire change of tenor at the commission meetings—evening meeting times we are told, to include more citizen participation, citizen advisory groups, and a chance to work together to create the vision set out by the people when they had a chance to be heard 15 years ago.

While there were other seats in this June election, none rivaled the commission race. But the message from the commission race was clear, a mandate to protect the county, to uphold the CLUP and to stay the course:

Mora County Declaration of the Public Welfare: “The connection between our land, our water and our people has sustained our culture since the first settlements in Mora County and our future depends on keeping these connections strong. Water is a vital link which, if severed from the land, will also fragment our people from their land. The allocation of our limited water resources must recognize traditional subsistence agricultural and grazing activities as a priority over other types of more profitable land uses. Water is not just a commodity to be bought and sold or exploited for short-term gains. Water is the life blood of Mora County's traditions, culture and land use. A sustainable future for Mora County requires protection of the most valuable resource for our communities – the water!” Source: Mora County Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) 8-11-2009

Thursday, June 10, 2010

An Unnatural Disaster--New York Times

Bob Herbert
Op ed columnist

“Where I was wrong,” said President Obama at his press conference on Thursday, “was in my belief that the oil companies had their act together when it came to worst-case scenarios.”

With all due respect to the president, who is a very smart man, how is it possible for anyone with any reasonable awareness of the nonstop carnage that has accompanied the entire history of giant corporations to believe that the oil companies, which are among the most rapacious players on the planet, somehow “had their act together” with regard to worst-case scenarios.

These are not Little Lord Fauntleroys who can be trusted to abide by some fanciful honor system. These are greedy merchant armies drilling blindly at depths a mile and more beneath the seas while at the same time doing all they can to stifle the government oversight that is necessary to protect human lives and preserve the integrity of the environment.

President Obama knows that. He knows — or should know — that the biggest, most powerful companies do not have the best interests of the American people in mind when they are closing in on the kinds of profits that ancient kingdoms could only envy. BP’s profits are counted in the billions annually. They are like stacks and stacks of gold glittering beneath a brilliant sun. You don’t want to know what people will do for that kind of money.

There is nothing new to us about this. Haven’t we just seen how the giant financial firms almost destroyed the American economy? Wasn’t it just a few weeks before this hideous Deepwater Horizon disaster that a devastating mine explosion in West Virginia — at a mine run by a company with its own hideous safety record — killed 29 coal miners and ripped the heart out of yet another hard-working local community?....continued

Gulf of Mexico (Spill) Disaster

Imagine the footprint of the Deepwater Horizon oil dispersion roughly centered on your home town. Here is what it looks like in New Mexico. on heading and see the image

A Michigan software developer has created a map that plops the spill area on top of any location on the globe, and updates the area as it grows.

Note that the current area of the Deepwater Horizon oil catastrophe (mid-June 2010) now covers about three times the surface area of solar photovoltaic panels required to power the current annual electrical demands of the USA.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wyoming approves 'fracking' disclosure rules--Associated Press

By MEAD GRUVER 6-8-2010
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A state agency that oversees oil and gas development voted Tuesday to require energy companies to disclose what chemicals they're pumping underground to improve the flow of oil and gas into well bores.

The state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission unanimously approved the new rules, which cover a variety of drilling practices including hydraulic fracturing. Commonly called "fracking," the process involves pumping pressurized water, sand and chemicals underground to crack open fissures in rock.

Environmentalists said they approve of the new rules, and industry officials said they can live with the changes.

"They appear on the surface to be workable," said Rick Robitaille, vice president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming. "As we go down further in time and see how they progress, perhaps we will need to tweak, perhaps not. It remains to be seen.".....continued......

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

NM Supreme Court Victory for "New Energy Economy"

June 7th 2010
New Energy Economy, a Santa Fe based, two year old non profit group, petitioned the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) to put a cap on greenhouse gas emissions in the state of New Mexico. During the hearing this past winter (2010) citizens, professionals, environmental groups and First Nations People representatives presented their concerns to the EIB about about health and cultural impacts in New Mexico, and urged the EIB to support a cap on greenhouse gas pollution. Industry was given equal opportunity to present their position during this hearing.

The oil/gas industry is the 2nd largest contributor to greenhouse gas pollution in the world. Today in the Gulf of Mexico the oil industry's spill is adding catastrophically to the health damage and destruction of untold numbers of wildlife with oil contamination in the deep seas, surface water, marshlands, beach shores, and toxic chemicals released into the water, air and ultimately into the bodies of wildlife and human population. Talk of nuclear detonation at the site of the spill continues to be discussed. Left unchecked, industry's hunger for its product ultimately leads to increasing mounting emissions around the world.

New Energy Economy's efforts to bring about environmental responsibility for New Mexico through a cap on greenhouse gas pollution would put New Mexico in a leadership position in the United States.

A victory was won by New Energy Economy through the unanimous decision by the NM Supreme Court regarding a lawsuit by industry challenging their petition for a cap on pollution. Supreme Court Breathes Life into New Energy Economy’s Petition. PNM No Longer Holds Clean Energy Future Hostage.